CHENNAI : It is a common belief in Indian culture that pilgrimage is a great religious endeavour and is essential for the true devotees of God and that it helps the soul in liberation from the past sins. That is why in India, many devout people undertake pilgrimages to holy places, hoping that the visit will fill them with inner power or cleanse them of their sins. Even the old undergo hardships to visit such places, many of which are in areas that are hard to access even in good weather.
The original purpose of a pilgrimage is to live in a spiritually refined environment. That’s the reason why during a pilgrimage, most of the people abstain from certain foods and indulgences. The fact that people go on a pilgrimage shows that they have a desire to get some kind of religious experience from which they hope to benefit either in terms of getting rid of their sins or finding more peace or having other wishes fulfilled. But rarely does it bring about a permanent change in their life or in their way of thinking or behaviour.
Once they are back from the pilgrimage, people resume their old ways of living and any uplifting experience that they might have had during the pilgrimage remains just a temporary experience that may, at the most, be cherished by them all their life. Thus, it does not result in any elevation in their consciousness because most of us fail to understand a fact that such transformations takes place only in the soul and cannot be brought about by a physical exercise of going on a pilgrimage. We must thus understand that a subtle transformation requires spiritual effort, and for that, the soul has to travel to the holiest of abodes which are called the soul world — which is the home of all souls as well as the supreme soul.
The practice by which the soul travels to that abode is called Rajyoga. When the soul thus establishes a link of love with its home, the qualities of peace, purity, love and power begin to flow into it. This unique experience nourishes the soul, empowers it and cleanses it of all the impurities that it has acquired by coming under negative influences of this world. This spiritual journey, when performed even for a short while, makes the soul strong enough to resist all that is harmful to its well being, and get rid of vices that give it sorrow. It is then able to go through life in a state of peace and happiness.
This journey does not require any money, other material resources or physical strain. It can be performed in the comfort of ones home, and for as long as one wants. And above all, at the end of it, one does not return exhausted but refreshed.